FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The only junior on a team with no seniors and nine freshmen and sophomores, David Flodberg has been pressed into a leadership role earlier than he ever anticipated. The native of Gothenburg, Sweden has taken to his elder status on the team and led NAU to its first winning season since 2002 and a second-place finish in the Big Sky regular season standings. He is a perfect 8-0 in Big Sky singles matches this season, building off a Big Sky Honorable Mention selection in 2009 to position the Lumberjacks for a run at the Big Sky Championship. Prior to departing for the conference championship this weekend, Flodberg discussed his anticipation and excitement at being only two wins away for a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Q: How have you taken to a leadership role this season?
A: It came a little bit quicker than I thought it would, but it's been interesting being the oldest guy on the team. (student assistant coach) Chris Arena (a senior on the team in 2009) has helped a lot with that as well so it's not all on my shoulders. The sophomores on the team have also really become leaders now too because we have five freshmen on the roster. I try to work hard to be a role model and hopefully the guys can take after that. The guys are pretty solid though, I don't think they need that much leadership.
Q: What was it like to go undefeated (8-0) in Big Sky singles matches?
A: It was great. I hope to keep it up in the conference tournament because I really felt comfortable in conference play.
Q: How exciting was your win against Sacramento State?
A: It was the first time we had beaten them since I've been here so it was really exciting. We have a huge advantage playing here and now we will be playing at their house. We have a better team than ever before so I think beating them earlier this season gives us a lot of confidence.
Q: Any pre-match superstitions?
A: The older I've gotten, the less I've done those kinds of things. I still try not to walk on the lines when I play and I always bounce the ball four times before I serve, but I used to do a lot more of that stuff. All tennis players seem to do some kinds of those things.
Q: How has it been playing doubles with freshman Patrick Schimmelbauer?
A: We played better during the Fall actually and we've been a little bit up and down so hopefully we can be strong during the tournament. His huge serve makes it really easy to play with him and gives us a great advantage. When I'm up at the net I don't have to do much other than finishing a volley.
Q: What is the team like with so many international players and Americans?
A: It's really cool because we have guys from all over the world. We have players from South America, Europe, Australia and North America so we all get to learn stuff from each other.
Q: Did you grow up playing tennis?
A: I played tennis, soccer and hockey growing up, but everything took so much time and I liked tennis the most so I stuck with that. I enjoyed playing tennis and hockey the most growing up but I chose to stay with tennis and I'm glad I did.
Q: Will you go back to Sweden after you graduate next year?
A: Yeah that's the plan. I hope to get a masters degree back in Sweden after I leave NAU. I like America but I miss home and it would be a lot of work to try to stay here after college. I go back home during the summer and winter and will probably go back permanently after I'm done here.
Q: Do you think you have a better chance to win the Big Sky than ever before?
A: Definitely. This is the best team we've had since I've been here. Our win against Sac State to begin the season was very solid and if we play them again we know we can beat them. We have to first focus on beating Weber State in the first match, because we lost to them earlier in the season (4-3 at Weber on April 3). I feel like we're pretty deep and we can get a few more points to beat them. We haven't won a championship match or been to the final since I've been here but I think we have a real chance this time.